What to do when your iPhone is lost or stolen

Lynn Wright / 01 March 2016 ( 21 February 2019 )

A lost iPhone doesn't have to mean the end of the world – follow our tips to find a missing iPhone.

Losing your iPhone isn't just expensive. Your iPhone holds all sorts of personal information – from photos and videos to passwords and calendars – and if a criminal gets their hands on this data, it can be more damaging than the cost a replacing a lost iPhone.

Fortunately, Apple has a couple of tricks up its sleeve to help you locate your missing iPhone and, more importantly, to remotely wipe your personal data.

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Apple’s Find My iPhone lets you locate a lost or missing device and then take action to keep your data safe. 

However, Find My iPhone must be switched on before your iPhone or other device goes missing – you may have done this when first setting up your phone.

Activating it is the only way you can track, find and be reunited with an Apple iPhone using its built-in GPS tracking software. It is highly recommended to turn on Find My iPhone on your iPhone.

With it turned on, you can track your missing iPhone at icloud.com or download and use the Find My iPhone app on another iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

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What if my iPhone is offline?

Find My iPhone only works when your iPhone is connected to a mobile broadband or wi-fi network, and switched on. If your missing iPhone is turned off, out of battery, or offline, you can’t track it but you can still turn on Lost Mode, lock it or remotely erase it. 

These actions take effect as soon as the iPhone comes online again. 

Don’t remove the phone from your Apple ID while it’s offline, otherwise any pending actions will be cancelled.

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What if Find My iPhone isn't turned on? 

If you haven't switched on Find My iPhone, then your options are more limited. You won’t be able to track your missing iPhone via GPS, but you can take the following steps to help protect your data:

1. Change your Apple ID password to stop anyone from accessing your iCloud data or using other services (such as iMessage or iTunes) on your missing iPhone.

2. Change the passwords for your other accounts including email accounts, Facebook, or Twitter.

3. Report your iPhone lost or stolen to the police. If asked for the phone’s serial number, you can find this either on the original box or on My Support Profile if you registered your device with your Apple ID.

4. Contact your mobile network provider to tell them your iPhone is lost or stolen. They will be able to cancel your phone account so the thief can’t make calls and texts nor use the internet. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.